Remembering the day an Ann Arbor teen blocked crowd from attacking alleged Klansman

Oct 31, 2013

Update 2:47 p.m.

Many people asked where Keshia Thomas is today after this post.

The BBC reported that Keshia lives in Houston now. Ryan Stanton over at the Ann Arbor News caught up with her. He reports that Thomas moved out of the area in 2002 and is working in a restaurant in Houston:

She said she still has family in the Ann Arbor area and plans to move back to Michigan before long so she can be part of the revitalization of Detroit [Thomas was born in Detroit].

Thomas said she's still trying to make a difference in the world and still trying to break down racial stereotypes through small acts of kindness.

She said disaster relief work has been a passion of hers over the years, whether that's meant going to Ground Zero after the twin towers fell or helping those in need following Hurricane Katrina and wildfires in California.

"This has just always been a passion of mine — even before the incident happened — to want to help people," she said. "And to help people see that there is hope."

Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 3:39 p.m.

A BBC article that’s making the rounds today tells the story of one Ann Arbor protest that took an unexpected turn.

Back in 1996, the Ku Klux Klan planned a rally in Ann Arbor. Hundreds showed up to the group’s rally, attempting to show the group that they had no place in the Michigan city.

Police had kept the two groups under control — that is, until an anti-KKK protester pointed to a man in a Confederate flag T-shirt, claiming he was a Klansman.

Suddenly, the atmosphere in the crowd turned, as protesters chased the man down the streets of Ann Arbor, amidst shouts of “Kill the Nazi.”

But as the crowd circled around the man with wooden sticks and signs from the protest, Keshia Thomas, a Black teen from Ann Arbor, threw herself on the man, and told the protesters to resist violence.

Mark Brunner, then a student photographer, was there, getting pictures of the protest. He told the BBC that it was the man Thomas saved that made her actions so “remarkable.”

"She put herself at physical risk to protect someone who, in my opinion, would not have done the same for her," he says. "Who does that in this world?"

For the whole story, follow this link.

- Melanie Kruvelis, Michigan Radio Newsroom